Self-expression can come in so many forms and often means something different for everyone. From dance to makeup to poetry, whatever medium we use to express who we are and the values we align with can shape our lives and the lives of others. For Jess, her self-expression comes in the form of content creation, makeup and style, all of which played a pivotal part in her journey to self-confidence – something Schwarzkopf LIVE Colour has helped with along the way.
"I’ve always been confident in wearing what I want and being quite expressive, wearing tattoos and changing my hair," says Jess. Currently sporting LIVE Colour & Care Mask in Ruby Red, and regularly using LIVE Colour + Lift Tangerine Twist, colour is definitely not something she shies away from. Jess first coloured her hair red as a teen and has a very supportive mum who encourages her to express herself. "Whenever we go on holidays she says, 'You always get people staring at you for your bold choices…your fashion, tattoos and hair. But I’m always quite proud to walk with you because you’re different.'"
Jess grew up in the countryside, in a village called Whaley Bridge which she describes as being in "the middle of nowhere". When she was at school she won an award for wearing the most hair colours – "It would be a different colour each month" – and was known as the friend who didn’t care too much about what people thought. Brought up on rock and roll and with a dad who loved heavy metal, her style is very heavily influenced by '80s fashion, bold prints and leather jackets. "I’m also a big fan of anime and Japanese culture. Bright colours, space buns and the cute, kawaii kind of style," she tells me.
"But then I did go into a stage where I lost a lot of body confidence in my late teens and 20s." Jess was in hospital for a period of time and says that diet culture has always been present in her family. Reflecting on what body standards were like when she was younger, she says she always knew she was different. "You always had to look a certain way and be a certain size. So for me, I didn’t think I could do something like [content creation] and put myself out there."
"I always thought the expectations were too unrealistic and that I didn’t fit in. I was just really scared to start because I know that there is a lot of negativity on there, airbrushing and fake photos. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to start, I would come across as real." Though naturally blonde, Jess says she will "never get rid of" her red hair because it reminds her of her favourite movie princess, who she has loved since she was a child.
The reflection brought about by the pandemic helped Jess to look beyond her body insecurities and starting her Instagram during lockdown was a huge part of her journey. "At the start of lockdown, I started learning to be happy with the size I am because there's a lot worse things going on in the world than worrying about your weight or your size. And I loved being able to wear what I wanted again."
Throughout her issues with body confidence, hair experimentation has always been a source of comfort for Jess. "I did love my hair going through most of my journey with body acceptance and I will always experiment with my hair and style. I learned we can't love every bit of ourselves every day and we will have bad days but there are some things I can do to make myself feel more positive. When going through tough times I always do my hair and get dressed up to help me feel better about myself."
Jess describes her quick success on Instagram – she now has over 20k followers – as "a bit crazy" and says it still shocks her to this day. She joined the platform in November 2020 on the encouragement of a friend who is a photographer. "She wanted to take my photos during lockdown and it just took off. I've actually met people that follow me and we’ve done shoots together. I’ve found a really good community and it kinda kept me sane during lockdown," she says.
Jess’ hair attracts a lot of her audience to her page for its brightness and vibrancy. "I think my hair is a part of my image and makes me recognisable," she says. "I get a lot of messages asking about the colour of my hair and what I use, and from people saying that I’ve inspired them to go orange or red and experiment with their hair. [The messages] are probably my favourite part to be honest." LIVE’s Colour & Care Masks allow Jess to achieve her vibrant locks with ease, in a way that’s quick and commitment-free.
Not every aspect of Jess’ life is creative. With a career in employment law, she loves creating content for the taste of fun it offers. "Doing something creative outside of my job has really made me happy. I was always creative in school and I actually wanted to be a tattoo artist. But where I lived in the time that I grew up in – about 15 years ago – it wasn't really a common thing to go into. There were no apprenticeship schemes or anything like that. And the nearest tattoo shop was an hour away so I couldn't get there," she explains. "I ended up working as an HR administrator, then doing a BA degree and master’s degree in employment law. All my teachers thought I was going to go into some kind of creative industry but I just never did."
Jess did go through a phase of "trying to fit in" when she started her law career. "I had black hair for some time and toned down my dress sense. However, as I grew in my career and went into senior positions I decided to dress how I want, get my tattoos out and colour my hair too. If a company doesn't want to hire me because of the way I look or wants me to change my image, it isn't the company I want to work for as I don't agree with those values," she tells us.
"I do have quite an outgoing and bubbly personality so my hair is always going to be bright. I’ve started experimenting more with colour [in my outfits] because I don’t mind it clashing with my hair anymore." Jess wants to prioritise always being the boldest, most authentic version of herself in a way that her audience can continue relating to her.